MHFA Newsletter - March 2016

Mental Health First Aid News and Notes

February 2016

Message from Denise:  Be 1 in a Million

Happy New Year Team MHFA!  Anniversaries are on my mind.  I’m celebrating one year of being at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health as part of Team MHFA.  Thank you for making this a great experience.

More importantly, MHFA USA celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year.  MHFA USA started in 2006 with a phone call.  Debuting at six pilot sites, MHFA USA is now taught in all 50 states and is supported with federal grant dollars.  It’s been endorsed by Michelle Obama and Patrick Kennedy and is promoted in major media outlets like Times Square.  Since that initial phone call, over 500,000 people have been trained in the United States.  In Illinois over 20,000 people have been trained – our Consortium having trained about one third of this number.

Nationally, Illinois is in the top ten lists of states with the most certified Mental Health First Aiders.  So celebrate, pat yourself on the back – we’re part of something big!

Now the challenge.  To cap off a decade of incredible growth, the National Council has set an important benchmark to really celebrate 10 years of MHFA USA.  The goal:  MHFA USA will be 1 million strong by the end of 2016, doubling our numbers nationally in one year.  

This goal mirrors our own at Linden Oaks.  We continue to grow our consortium in the number of overall instructors.  We have instructors that are certified to teach almost every curriculum module.  We expanded our primary service region to focus on all of the Linden Oaks and Northwest Community Hospital locations.  We are supported by an administrative assistant and have made significant strides in streamlining our class registration process and marketing efforts.  We’ve added an ACE Instructor Designation.  With all of these changes our goal is to have that reflected in the number of people taught in MHFA through our Consortium.  Here’s my dream:  Linden Oaks MHFA will be 10,000 strong within the coming year.  It’s an ambitious goal – but one worth reaching for.  

I’m challenging us to set these goals:  training 3500 people through our consortium; making a major contribution to reaching the 1 million mark nationally, and getting Illinois into the top five on the list of states with the most Mental Health First Aiders.  Here’s what you can do:  talk about MHFA; have our MHFA flyers available to distribute; make a list of five organizations that you will “market” MHFA to; commit to setting up at least one class through your marketing efforts; and encourage people to check out the Linden Oaks website for open MHFA classes.  Let us know how we can help you reach out.

In 2017 let’s celebrate training 10,000 of 1 million Mental Health First Aiders.  Let’s be 10,000 strong!


Instructor Domenica Ottolino-Kaht with her Spanish MHFA class at Illinois Advocate Masonic Medical Center

Instructor Corner:  How to Prepare for and Survive a Quality Evaluator Visit:  Tips from Instructors who made it through
Amy Barth and Judy Smith

In the November 2015 newsletter you heard from Barry Groesch about how to prepare for a QE visit.  This month we’re including some tips from Amy Barth and Judy Smith, two of your instructor colleagues that have made it through the QE process.  Here are some tips from Amy and Judy about how to prepare for a QE visit.

  • Print out the teaching rubrics.  (Available at )  Don’t wait until you get a notice about being evaluated; become familiar with the rubric now.
  • Compare your established teaching style and content to the categories and rankings on the rubric.  The rubric is very specific about what sections must be taught and what constitutes excellent teaching of each element.
  • If you aren’t certain of what something means or how you should cover the information, contact Denise and she will talk you through that section.
  • Review the first several pages of the rubric in regards to the preparation & planning; values; concepts; scope and role of the MHFAider and instructor; and instructor presentation and facilitation skills.  Is there anything you need to change in order to maximize your scores in these areas?
  • You don’t get a lot of notice that you will be evaluated (about 48 hours) so do the prep work now.  Don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Contact Denise as soon as you get the notice that you are to be evaluated.  The notice goes to you as the instructors, not Denise as the coordinator.  She will work to support you through the QE process.
  • During the evaluation – keep your teaching manual handy.  Use it to keep yourself on track and insure that you cover all of the required material.  You don’t get marked down for having your book with you.
  • Stick to the recommended time allocations for each section.
  • Stay on script!  It can work against you to add a lot of personal or additional material.  Examples (positive ones only) are great, but adding your own opinions or things you think are important but are not included in the curriculum might lead to a lower score.
  • Use the feedback you receive from the QE person as an opportunity to enhance your teaching of MHFA.
The #1 suggestion from both Amy and Judy is to use the rubric as your friend and do the preparation work now!

MHFA FAQ’s: New Instructor Tools from Linden Oaks 

In the past two newsletters, you’ve heard a lot about the Quality Evaluation process and the ACE Instructor Designation.  These are new Consortium practices designed to maintain high quality MHFA instruction by our members.  Trina and I are here to help you be great instructors.  

At the Team MHFA office we’ve been busy developing processes to streamline our efforts and support you.  Here are some things that are designed to help us all work smarter not harder as we strive for the 10,000 MHFA mark.

  • Recommended Teaching Agenda – Several weeks prior to teaching a class, you and your co-instructor will receive via email a recommended agenda of the adult or youth course.  The agenda suggests a division of the course material with assigned slides, recommended time allocations and actual clock times (based on the scheduled time of the class) that you and your co-instructor can use to determine teaching responsibilities.  It’s not a requirement that you use this form, but please be mindful of the time frames listed on the form.  The times on the agenda are based on the perimeters set by MHFA USA.  Use the form as a communication tool to prepare for your upcoming course.
  • Resource Lists – One of the requirements of any MHFA course is to provide resource information to participants.  We now have a set of resource lists by county that will be provided at each class.  In addition I invite each of you to bring appropriate resource information that you may be aware of to a class you are teaching.  
  • Tracking of Instructor Classes Taught – Trina put together a tool to regularly track the number of classes taught by each instructor.  She will be communicating with each of you about your anniversary date and the classes you have taught and need to teach in order to maintain your certification.  Some of you recently changed anniversary dates because you were granted an extension.  Know that moving forward MHFA USA will not be as lenient in granting extensions.  
  • Online Registration – As of January 2016, we are encouraging all class registration to take place online through EventBrite.  Trina sets this up and provides the registration link.  Class payment will still take place in person or via invoice, but online registration enables us to gather the information we need to register participants with MHFA USA.  
  • Monthly Scheduler emails – We are committed to emailing the list of available classes to you on a monthly basis.  We are scheduling new classes all the time and the list of available classes will include several months-worth of classes that need instructors.  Watch for this email each month so that you can request classes that fit your schedule.
  • Moving forward we will continue to be on the look-out for additional ways to assist you.  Please let us know if there is something else we can do to support your preparation or teaching of MHFA. 

Curriculum Corner:  Higher Education Module

One of the new curriculum modules within the adult curriculum is for Higher Education.  The module is designed for use with college students, faculty and staff or with audiences who may interact regularly with college students.  We know that 75% of all mental disorders begin by age 24 and 40% of all 18 – 24 year olds are enrolled in some type of college.  Teaching higher education audiences can have a significant impact on encouraging early help seeking behavior and decreasing stigma.

Similar to the other curriculum modules there are changes in some of the materials.  Some of the slides present alternative statistics, there is a different depression video, the supplement to the instructor manual provides information about this population and the scenarios are focused on higher education settings.  Instructors are encouraged to recognize the awareness of cultural factors on campuses, differences in how college students may or may not seek out help and some of the unique mental health issues impacting college students.

In regards to content, the information about depression and anxiety is focused on how this might present in college aged young people.  The section on psychosis has minimal changes.  The substance use section provides additional information about binge drinking and prescription drug use.  There is also additional information about eating disorders.

If you are interested in teaching the Higher Education module you must listen to the webinar on the MHFA USA website and pass the associated quiz.  As with all the modules, it is strongly recommended that you have experience working with college aged students or college staff.  Once you have completed the webinar and passed the quiz, you will receive this designation on your MHFA USA profile.  Linden Oaks has purchased all of the necessary material for this module, so you will not have to purchase any additional material to teach the class.


Picture caption:  Northwest Community Hospital class - December 2015

MHFA Spotlight:  Kimberly Hart
Kimberly A. Hart

Kimberly A. Hart has been a part of the Linden Oaks Mental Health First Aid consortium since May 2013. She began her MHFA advocacy and outreach training work while completing her Master's degree work in Counseling. Currently, Kimberly works at Northern Illinois University as the Director of the Community Counseling Training Center and Field-Based Experiences in the Counseling, Adult, & Higher Education Department.

Concurrently, Kimberly is working on her dissertation study of multicultural inclusion experiences in professional counseling. Along with being a certified MHFA Instructor for the adult curriculum, Kimberly also provides instruction for Youth MHFA and the Higher Education MHFA module. 

Kimberly is passionate about the work she does as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Nevertheless, she frequently notes, "I am trying to work myself out of a job." She believes in the power of prevention through education to reduce stigma around mental health and mental health issues as well as in the power of community support networks that can ameliorate everyday stress and experiences of being unwell that can lead to increased experiences of mental, emotional, and physical distress. Speaking of which, Kimberly takes every moment she can away from counseling and MHFA instruction to decompress with movies, wall climbing, and game nights with friends.

Teaching Tips:   Presentation Pointers

Here are some presentation pointers I’ve picked up from observing the national trainers this summer and our Consortium colleagues.  Think about how you can add these practices to your MHFA trainings or any public speaking opportunities you might have.

  • Before the class starts take the time to prepare all of the materials written on the large sheets of paper.  This would include the Ground Rules, Parking Lot, A-Z list for depression, and any other activities you might be having the group do using large sheets of paper.
  • We use the terminology “Ground Rules”.  How about adding “Ground Rules/Comfort Agreements”?  This might help with the brainstorming the group does right at the beginning of the class.  It’s an easy way to generate discussion and using the terminology “Comfort Agreements” helps participants think about this activity in a different way.
  • When doing an activity that utilizes a handout, give all the instructions, demonstrate the activity, if necessary, and then distribute the handout.  If you distribute the handouts first or while you are trying to explain the activity, people will not pay attention to what you are saying because they are reading the information on the sheet.
  • Many of our Powerpoint slides contain lists of talking/bullet points.  With all that we have to cover there is not time to discuss each item.  Instead display the entire list of bullet points and ask your audience if there are any items they would like to clarify or discuss.  Feel free to highlight any of the talking points that stand out to you as well.  The important items will be addressed in a timely fashion.
  • Remember to project your voice when speaking.  Sometimes our training spaces do not have great acoustics and there may be people in our audiences with hearing impairments.  Speak up and enunciate so that everyone is included in the discussion.


Genalin Niere-Metcalf teaches a Cornerstone Services class about “Shaky Man” – November 2015

New Collaborations

• Lombard Police Department, Lombard
• Kendall County Sheriff Department, Yorkville
• Reed-Custer School District 255, Braidwood
• Wilmington Coalition, Wilmington
• Morris Hospital, Morris
• Wishing Well, Frankfort
• Elmhurst Fire Department, Elmhurst
• Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, Joliet

MHFA Happenings 

  • Remember all Consortium members are eligible to attend Linden Oaks educational seminars for free.  Linden Oaks offers seminars at the Mill Street location on a monthly basis.  These are generally worth 3 CEU’s.  Linden Oaks also provides webinars worth 1 CEU that are offered every other month.  Seminars for 2016 are listed on the website.  To register for a class call 630-527-6363 and let the receptionist know you are an MHFA instructor.  On-line registration for the events will not allow you to access the free class benefit.
  • As of December 2015, 6575 people have been trained through the Linden Oaks MHFA Consortium.  During similar time frames (July to December) our consortium doubled the number of people trained in 2015 over the number trained in 2014.
    • 863 individuals in 49 classes trained in MHFA July 2015 – December 2015 
    • 495 individuals in 26 classes trained in MHFA July 2014 – December 2014
      Onward to 10,000!
  • Linden Oaks will be offering MHFA and YMHFA trainings at all of its sites during 2016.  We have the dates and locations set – you’ve probably seen some of these classes listed on the scheduler.  Hopefully you have received an email copy of the flyer.  Feel free to widely distribute the flyer and sign up for classes as they become available on the monthly emails of available classes.
  • Have you received these emails?
    • Dear Instructor and Co-Facilitator, Course Number 12345 has been registered with mhfa. To review this course please go to   or
    • Dear John Doe, Just a reminder to enter onto the MHFA web-database the post course details in section 2 that you have collected from the MHFA course you have just finished conducting on 1/1/2016. Once you have completed the post course information for this course it will be counted towards your accreditation. If you were not able to conduct this course, could you please delete its entry. To do this, click on courses, then click on the find button and click delete under the action column for this course. Best wishes The MHFA Training Team

      Not sure what these emails mean? When a class is officially registered with MHFA USA, the first email is automatically sent to the instructors of the course.  Once a class has been completed the second email is automatically sent.  But guess what - you don’t have to do anything!  We take care of this for you.  So just delete the email or save it as a record of a class you taught.  

Upcoming Classes (March, April and May)

  • Northwest Community Hospital MHFA March 7 8 am – 5 pm
  • Linden Oaks at Elmhurst YMHFA March 2 & 9 5 pm – 9 pm
  • Edward Hospital Volunteers MHFA March 2 & 8 8 am – 12 noon
  • Presence St. Joseph Medical Center MHFA March 15 & 16 7:45 am – 12 noon
  • Linden Oaks at Plainfield MHFA March 17 8 am – 5 pm
  • DuPage County Health Department MHFA March 18 8 am – 5 pm
  • Naperville Public Library MHFA March 24 & 31 9 am – 1 pm
  • Rasmussen College MHFA-HE March 29 8 am – 5 pm
  • Waubonsee Community College MHFA April 1 8 am – 5 pm
  • Lombard Police Department MHFA –LE April 6 8 am – 4 pm
  • Safe Harbor Counseling Center MHFA April 8 8 am – 5 pm
  • North Central College MHFA April 9 8 am – 5 pm
  • Naperville CUSD #203 YMHFA April 11 & 16 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Waubonsee Community College MHFA April 14 & 21 5 pm – 9 pm
  • Presence St. Joseph Medical Center YMHFA April 27 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • Safe Harbor Counseling Center YMHFA April 29 8 am – 5 pm
  • Northwest Community Hospital MHFA May 11 & 18 5 pm – 9 pm